Copyright @ 2018 James L. Berkley. All rights reserved.

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Kali Martial Arts

The fighting skills of the Filipine Islands are numerous, extensive and sophisticated, but have only become relatively well known in recent years. Least well known among these may be Kali: the use of edged/pointed weapons. As in every other case, the original purpose of Filipino martial art was warfighting and served the interests of liberation from tyranny, first against the Empire of Spain, then against occupation by its once and future ally, the United States, and most recently, with American help, against the Empire of Japan.

The martial art of the Filipines remains among the most vital and practical in the world with respect to counteroffensive use by civilians living under the rule of law in countries not at war. The weapons most commonly encountered by civilians anywhere in the world aside from firearms, are blunt objects and knives. Without an understanding of and basic capability in their use, it is unlikely that the practitioner of so-called "empty hand" systems of skill can win or survive encounters with armed opposition. In encountering an enemy armed with a knife, you must know the knife, and ideally possess a firearm. Even if you do, it may be necessary to engage and survive at close quarters with the knife-armed enemy long enough to deploy your firearm.

Components of edged/pointed weapons use are:

  • Weapon function: thrusting, cutting, ripping, blunt impact trauma, checking, trapping, parrying, blocking, monitoring, and tracking.

  • Weapon design; the capabilities and limitations of the weapon, of grip, body mechanics, posture, stance and footwork.

  • Engagement, i.e.: maneuver and the exploitation of distance, angle, rhythm, timing and balance.

  • Fundamental knowledge of anatomy in order to target the enemy's body, and to defend one's own in the context of counter-offensive tactics for close engagement.


The knife is highly compatible with virtually any method of fencing, boxing and trapping, and grappling. A fundamental understanding of and capability with the knife are essential elements of tactical engagement for all practitioners of martial art.

To inquire about individual and small group instruction in the tactical use of the knife and other weapons of counter-offense, together with Boxing and Trapping Skills, and Grappling and Tumbling Skills, or to schedule a private interview, please call 212-749-1220 or Click Here to Request Information.

For a thorough treatment of our method, read Igensho: The Book of Dignity: General Principles of Martial Art.